For my day job as a book and paper conservator, I recently attended a weekend-long continuing education workshop at the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation in Mt. Carroll, IL. The program’s director encouraged workshop participants to join her for dinner on Friday night at a locally-beloved pizza place just across the Mississippi River in Sabula, IA. To be more precise, the pizzeria is on the island of Sabula, right smack in the middle of the Mississippi. We stopped at the overlook in Mississippi Palisades Park on our way to dinner, and caught the tail end of a magnificent sunset.
Bombfire Pizza’s wood-fired oven bakes up rustic pizzas made from organic, locally sourced ingredients four days a week (Thursday through Sunday), while local musicians of varying talent entertain the restaurant’s guests. It’s a quirky place, with a warm, homey, crowded upstairs dining area that recently expanded down into the basement… which is, as yet, unfinished.
We pushed together a few tables at the back of the somewhat dank cellar, our corner of the room lit only by one bare (but energy efficient!) lightbulb. After exchanging a few disbelieving glances, the newbies among us decided this pizza must surely be something special, if regulars were willing to dine in such an unusual ambiance.
We sipped local draft beer from the Galena Brewery while we waited for our selection of pizzas, our growling stomachs tantalized by the smoky aromas wafting down to us.
All the pizzas we tried were delicious — from the Mediterranean to the Flying Cow (sausage, bacon, beef, and pepperoni) to the Chicken Pesto — but my favorite was the Meat-Hater’s pizza, the crust piled high with huge chunks of gorgeous fresh vegetables with tons of flavor and texture. It was worth both the wait and the basement’s chilly gloom.
If you ever find yourself near Sabula, IA, definitely make the time to stop and dine at Bombfire Pizza — but try to hold out for a seat in the upstairs dining room.